‘Feisty’ females rise above gender labels to succeed in business

More than half of female entrepreneurs have been branded with stereotypical gender labels, yet a fifth say these labels made them more determined to succeed.

More than half (52 per cent) of UK female entrepreneurs have been branded with stereotypical gender labels while running their business, according to new research from Natwest. Around a fifth say they had been described as self-assured (18 per cent) or opinionated (20 per cent), with more than one in ten (13 per cent) being called feisty and vocal (12 per cent), whilst in a professional environment.

The research also explores how these comments affected female entrepreneurs across the UK. Londoners are more than twice as likely to feel self-conscious when branded with these terms (31 per cent), compared to just 15 per cent of those in Scotland.

In Wales nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of female entrepreneurs are made to feel less confident about their work ability by gender labels. However, women in the North of England are the least likely to be affected, just six per cent say their confidence was negatively affected by gender labels.

A fifth (20 per cent) of female entrepreneurs are not fazed when branded with gender specific stereotypes. Instead these women say the gender labels made them even more determined to succeed in their business venture. Overall a third (33 per cent) even went on to say they simply ignored the terms and did not care about the comments.

Gender labels are changing in business

Encouragingly, nearly half (48 per cent) believe that terms used to describe female entrepreneurs have become more positive over the last five years. A quarter (25 per cent) declare that in their experience, labels have become more gender-neutral over this period.

When thinking about the attributes they would like to be associated with, the female entrepreneurs surveyed suggest intelligence (58 per cent), communication (52 per cent), organisation (50 per cent), independence (48 per cent), resourcefulness (47 per cent).

Julie Baker, head of enterprise for business banking at NatWest says, ‘While it is clear that a high percentage of women are still experiencing gender specific challenges it is fantastic to see more female entrepreneurs rising above any negative stereotyping and being more determined than ever to succeed regardless.

‘Therefore it is vital to the UK economy that we do all we can to encourage more women to be confident in their skills, champion their strength and to start new businesses.’

Baker concludes, ‘As a supporter of female entrepreneurs we understand the various challenges that women might face when setting up or running their business, which is why we have created numerous roles within the bank which are dedicated to providing tailored support for women to start up and succeed in business.

‘From introductions to relevant organisations to tangible day-to-day support, at NatWest we want to go beyond providing financial services and help female entrepreneurs achieve their ambitions for their business.’

To provide this support, NatWest has over 400 Women in Business specialists throughout the UK. These specialists are accredited by the Chartered Banker in conjunction with Everywoman, an organisation that provides resources and services to support women who are starting or growing their businesses. Through these dedicated business experts, customers will have access to their hands-on expertise, unique business insight and training and opportunities to create valuable connections.

Further reading on women entrepreneurs

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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Female Entrepreneurs